June 2002 Contents
Super Achievers & Success
at Every Alien Door'
‘ANANDA’ IN THE HILLS by Anurag Yadav
‘ANANDA’ IN THE HILLS
The winding road through the hills of Rishikesh and Narendranagar in the Garhwal Himalayas leads to The Ananda spa - a closely guarded retreat in the Himalayan hills.
Uttaranchal, the newest Indian state, born in November 2001, is already a destination for pilgrims, adventure seekers and those in search of respite from the daily rigours of city life. Badrinath, and Kedarnath in the Himalayas, Gangotri and Yamunotri -the origin of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers respectively--are the major destinations for the spiritually inclined and also for the casual vacationer.
For eons the holy men of India have meditated and chanted hymns to the mighty Himalayas on the banks of the Ganges at Rishikesh. The serenity of this ashram town, though ruptured at times by the call of the new century, is still preserved at many places. And it comes as a pleasant surprise to hear the plaintive calls of the deer, frogs and wild birds as the only sounds just minutes away from the plains.
A closely guarded secret of the Himalayan hills, now catching the fancy of the upmarket traveller and stressed out souls, is a resort called Ananda. – reached by a road that winds its way through the hills from Rishikesh to Narendranagar. Run by Mandarin Hotels, which run resorts in places as diverse as Hongkong, Manila, Jakarta and London, the Ananda spa is the erstwhile summer retreat of the British gentry and the palace of an erstwhile local Maharaja.
Ananda is spread over 100 acres. The Viceroy's palace is the main centre where among the relics of a regal past, one can unwind to the deft technique of Ayurvedic massages and yogic exercises that relax the body and heals the mind.
The spa is still a new concept for the Indian tourist travelling within the country. No wonder it is the foreigner who is drawn to the resort with a sprinkling of Indians. Yet, as the word goes around, Indian visitors who have deep pockets are now converging to the place.
Ananda does not offer the urban five-star ambience. The iron gates of the spa open to a tree-lined driveway leading to the Maharaja's palace, built in 1910 to house the Viceroy on his visits to the Garhwal region.
The royal library is still stacked with books. It has now been converted into a multi-facility hall. The skating rink has been turned into a boardroom and a presidential suite. And this is just a curtain raiser to what follows.
The entire complex holds 13 treatment rooms, a spacious gym, relaxation rooms, sauna and hydrotherapy rooms and what one would presume, are miles of quiet hills, greenery and silence.
The guests are gently introduced to the regimen they are supposed to follow during their stay. A consultant doctor first notes down a guest's history, habits and other such details to get to know the sort of treatment or regimes that should be applied.
Richard Schwarz, a German guest who has just completed a session says he has benefited immensely from the weeklong stay. " I have been through sheer ecstasy, though at times, it's been a body-pounding experience."He says that foot reflexology---a technique where the feet are massaged to invigorate or activate various nerves that control the body---is a starter and is followed by a Swedish massage with a lot of pummelling and kneading that really turns the body to putty in the masseurs hands. Facials, oil baths and hot aromatic oil fumigations usually put people into blissful sleep.
As the stars twinkle over a rich clean dark sky, one is held spellbound by the sheer beauty that darkness offers to the eye in an environment of such squeaky clean nature. One can stargaze the night away through the large windows even as the warm glow of the lights in Rishikesh filter down in the valley as you laze in the warmth of your room.
The kitchen at the resort serves health food. It comes as a pleasant surprise that food can be healthy and yet be so fat free and tasty. All the ingredients are grown organically in the resort's own herb gardens. The guests can even walk into the kitchen and participate in the cooking process to experience first hand the making of a healthy diet.
From each of the 75 rooms at the resort one can see the wonderful sweep of the majestic Garhwal valley and mountains. As the sound of crickets, birds and the wind rustling through the leaves in the forest assail ones ears at night while one sips a healthy brew, it seems unbelievable that one is merely five hours away from the smoke and grime of Delhi. Paradise is so near. Well, almost!
Getting there : 226 kms. North of Delhi in Uttaranchal, in the Himalayan foothills. Close to Rishikesh. The resort is located in Narendra Nagar in Tehri-Garhwal.
Accessibility: By Air: A 40 minute flight from Delhi to Dehradun. Flights are thrice weekly. By Train: A 4-hour journey from Delhi to Haridwar followed by a 45-minute drive of hilly drive. By Road: The driving time between Delhi and Narendra Nagar is approximately five hours.
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